Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

A local's guide to Glasgow: What to do and where to eat in Scotland's biggest city

If you're in the mood for a varied weekend of music, culture and banter with the locals, this itinerary is a must-do

The famous Duke of Wellington statue outside the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. Courtesy flickr / Tony Webster
The famous Duke of Wellington statue outside the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. Courtesy flickr / Tony Webster

Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city and a former industrial hub that has transformed into one of the cultural capitals of Europe. It has grown from a city of shipbuilding to a destination known for its architecture, museums and thriving food scene. It’s gritty and its edges are a little rough, but take the time to discover it and you’ll be glad you did.

My must-do

Glasgow's King Tut's Wah Wah Hut hosted Oasis, Radiohead, Calvin Harris and Coldplay before they shot to stardom. 
Glasgow's King Tut's Wah Wah Hut hosted Oasis, Radiohead, Calvin Harris and Coldplay before they shot to stardom.

The Unesco city of music is perhaps best discovered on a Glasgow City Music Tour. Running every Saturday, these walking tours take you to the heart of some of the city’s more legendary musical moments. Visit the Barrowlands, where an undiscovered David Bowie performed; stop at The Garage, where Coldplay took the stage before they released their debut album; and don’t miss King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, where Britpop band Oasis were signed.

My favourite night out

Ashton Lane is a great spot for a night out in Glasgow. Courtesy Visit Scotland 
Ashton Lane is a great spot for a night out in Glasgow. Courtesy Visit Scotland

Glasgow’s Ashton Lane, a fairy-light-lit stretch of eateries, funky bars and live music venues, began its rise to fame with the opening of the Ubiquitous Chip back in the Seventies, so start with a bite or a drink here then cross the street for a botanical-infused drink at The Gardener. See a movie at The Grosvenor Cinema (book a sofa seat for serious comfort) then ring in the wee hours at Jinty McGinty’s where there’s live music every night of the week.

My top spots for eating out

Despite a thriving food scene, Glasgow hasn’t been awarded a Michelin star for more than 10 years, but don’t let that put you off. Go to Six by Nico on Argyle Street where Scottish-Italian chef Nico serves a six-course tasting “story” that changes every six weeks. Themes can be anything from Thai Street Food to The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. It’s fun, dishes are perfectly executed and it’s affordable – which might be the very thing holding it back from a fine-dining accolade. Elsewhere, try Red Onion on West Campbell Street. Run by a chef who used to cook for Tina Turner, Bryan Adams and Guns N’ Roses, it offers unpretentious Scottish food with a twist, plus a vegan menu. Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery is another good pick, or try Paesano Pizza for good value wood-fired pies.

My cultural must-dos

The hilltop Necropolis behind Glasgow Cathedral is one of the best places for views of the city. Courtesy VisitScotland 
The hilltop Necropolis behind Glasgow Cathedral is one of the best places for views of the city. Courtesy VisitScotland

Visit the Glasgow Cathedral, which dates back to the 10th century, and venture out back and into the Necropolis. This Victorian cemetery is filled with beautiful Celtic crosses and headstones and, if you go for sunset, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best panoramic views of the city. Try to see the Royal Scottish National Orchestra perform or catch a show by the Scottish Ballet. Dotted around town, the city’s museums are typically free to enter and of a high standard. Check out the Riverside Museum, the People’s Palace or the Gallery of Modern Art – the latter has become a Glasgow legend thanks to the traffic-cone wearing Duke of Wellington statue outside the entrance.

My get-to-know-the-locals tip

Join the Tartan Army in the stands at Hampden Park and you're bound to make some friends. Courtesy flickr 
Join the Tartan Army in the stands at Hampden Park and you're bound to make some friends. Courtesy flickr

The locals are as known for their friendly banter as they are for their thick Scottish brogue. The only time this doesn’t ring true is when it comes to football – Glasgow is also known for the long-running rivalry between Celtic and Rangers, a feud that often turns nasty. Give both teams a wide swerve and instead watch the national team play at Hampden Park. Here, the banter is friendly, the supporters are kilt-wearing and everyone is welcome.

Updated: November 28, 2019 04:25 PM

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